UNMC names new research center after Charles Durham

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By Beth Flynn

The new UNMC medical research center, still under construction, is to be named in honor of leading donor Charles W. Durham.

The name was announced during a ceremony held Oct. 23 in the area formerly named the Research Center of Excellence. The center was named after Omaha philanthropist Durham to thank and honor him for his generous contribution toward the newly restored research center.

The amount Durham donated has not been released to the public at his request.

The ceremony included observations from UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, who acted as emcee, as well as several university, business and governmental figures. Future plans for the building were also discussed.

Expected to open by next fall, the $77 million building is being funded completely by private donors. The building runs along 45th Street from Emile Street to Dewey Avenue.

The 10-level, 289,000-gross-square-foot research center will house 116 state-of-the-art research labs. There will also be a 319-seat auditorium, three classrooms and 12 rooms to be used for conferences or seminars.

Each of the floors and other areas will be named in honor for each of the principal donors. Principal donors include the Peter Kiewit Foundation, Suzanne and Walter Scott Jr., Ruth and Bill Scott, Stanley Truhlsen, M.D., Mary and Dick Holland, The Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Memorial Foundation, Gail Walling Yanney M.D., and Michael Yanney and a donor who has asked to remain anonymous.

Durham is not a stranger to donating to UNMC. Along with his late wife Margre, Durham has been a very generous contributor to UNMC in the past. In 1998, they helped establish the Charles W. and Margre H. Durham Excellence in Medicine fund in order to further the research in areas such as prostate cancer, arthritis and minimally invasive surgery. With the donations from the couple, UNMC became the eighth medical center in the country to acquire the robotic daVinci Surgical System. With this new system, Nebraska was on the map in the area for computer-assisted surgery.

To thank the Durham family, the Outpatient Care Center was renamed to the Durham Outpatient Center and the parking garage connected to the center was named the Durham Outpatient Center Parking.

With the new and improved research center, the research for UNMC will not only be richly enhanced in numerous areas but provide new options for them. Areas of enhanced research will include cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neuroscience, transplantation biology, genetics and eye research.

Maurer thanked the donors during Wednesday’s ceremony, saying that without their generosity, the building would not be possible. The donors are responsible for the enhanced learning and researching for the medical center and for the future students studying to become the health professionals of tomorrow’s world.

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